26 Mayıs 2008 Pazartesi

EA tops expectations, looks ahead

Video game giant Electronic Arts on Tuesday posted fourth-quarter revenues that beat Wall Street expectations and looked ahead to fiscal 2009, when it expects to release 15 new games.
Net revenue for the quarter was $1.127 billion, up 84 percent as compared with $613 million for the prior year, the company said. Net loss for the quarter was $94 million, widening from a net loss of $25 million for the prior year.
"On balance, we're very pleased with our revenue growth, but not yet happy with our profit margins," EA CEO John Riccitiello said in a statement. "In fiscal 2009, we expect to deliver another $1 billion in revenue growth and to double our operating profit on the strength of our slate of titles."
Electronic Arts, which is based in Redwood City, Calif., is attempting to buy Take-Two Interactive Software, maker of the blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series, for $2 billion.

SFZero: A new interface for San Francisco

Remember the movie The Game, with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn as unlikely brothers, shot before the backdrop of vertiginous San Francisco?
Well, here's a new interface for the city by the Bay: SFZero is "a new representation for the data that's already there. Your mind is full of inaccurate representations that are affecting the way you use the San Francisco data flow, steering you away from interaction and collaboration and toward unproductive reflexive data loops.
SFZero designers are working double shifts to engineer this next-generation interface that will bring you together with your cohabitants to experience the freedom that is hard-coded into San Francisco's protocol."
Sounds enigmatic, looks enigmatic, and is enigmatic. I am therefore not sure if I fully get it, but in any case, SFZero seems to be a new kind of ARG (alternate-reality game)--a "Collaborative Production Game," as they call it.
"Let Someone Else Plan Your Day!" SFZero says. "Release total control of your life to an anonymous source that supplies you with instructions and directions!"
How can you not sign up for that?
Hat tip to Chelsea Holden Baker.

Nintendo loses Wii controller patent suit

Nintendo has been ordered to pay $21 million to a Texas company in a suit involving patents used in technology behind the company's Wii and GameCube systems, the Associated Press reported.

Anascape, a Lufkin, Texas-based company, sued Nintendo in 2006. A federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled in Anascape's favor on Wednesday.
A Nintendo representative said the company plans to appeal the verdict.
"We also expect the trial court to promptly reduce the dollar amount of the verdict significantly, as the amount was actually incorrectly calculated," Nintendo spokesman Charlie Scibetta said. "The correct calculation will result in a judgment that is a fraction of the current verdict."
According to court documents, Anascape had asserted that Nintendo's Wii Remote, Wii Classic, and Wii Nunchuk controllers, along with its Game Cube controllers, infringe on U.S. Patent No. 6,906,700, which describes a "3D controller with vibration" and was filed in November 2000.
In the end, the jury found that the Wii Remote and Nunchuck controllers didn't infringe on the patent, but the Wii Classic Controller, WaveBird controller, and Nintendo GameCube controllers did.
Nintendo argued in its latest court filings that there wasn't sufficient evidence that its products infringed that patent and that other inventions--particularly Sony's DualShock 2 controller, which went on sale in the United States in October 2000 and has also been the subject of patent litigation--predated Anascape's patent filing, rendering it obvious and invalid. As recently as Wednesday, the company asked the judge to throw out the case.
Anascape had also also sued Microsoft over the patents but settled with the company on May 1, just before the case went to trial, according to court documents.
The Eastern District of Texas, where the suit played out, has earned a reputation for speedy trials and plaintiff-friendly juries, consequently drawing more patent lawsuits than most other jurisdictions.
News.com's Anne Broache contribued to this report.

EA's acquisition bid for Take-Two expires

Electronic Arts' hostile bid for Grand Theft Auto producer Take-Two Interactive appears to have ended quietly this week.

Shortly after EA failed to make an attractive-enough offer, Take-Two's Grand Theft Auto IV shattered all-time launch sales records, lending support to Chairman Zelnick's argument that the bid undervalued the company.(Credit: Rockstar Games)
The game maker, whose reduced acquisition bid of $25.74 a share was rejected as inadequate last month, had set Friday as the extended deadline for it to buy up Take-Two's shares. The day came and went without action regarding the takeover from either company.
The updated offer, rejected by Take-Two on April 18, continued to be inadequate and undesirable, according to Chairman Strauss Zelnick at the time. "It undervalued the company at $26 per share, and it certainly undervalues Take-Two at $25.74."
Since then, the record-breaking launch of Grand Theft Auto IV has likely proven Zelnick correct, with first-week sales of $500 million. The game sold 3.6 million copies its first day on the market, shattering the previous all-time launch sales record held by Microsoft's Halo 3.
Take-Two shares were priced slightly above $27 in after-hours trading Saturday morning.
"There is nothing going on right now," Take-Two spokeswoman Meg Maise told AFP on Friday afternoon. "It is in (EA's) court."

Electronic Arts further extends Take-Two tender offer

Electronic Arts announced Monday that it is extending its tender offer for Take-Two Interactive Software to mid-June, marking its third extension in its hostile buyout attempt of its rival game maker.

Shortly after EA failed to make an attractive-enough offer, Take-Two's Grand Theft Auto IV shattered all-time launch sales records, lending support to Chairman Zelnick's argument that the bid undervalued the company.(Credit: Rockstar Games)
EA, which, to date, has received commitments from Take-Two investors to tender roughly 6.2 million shares, or 8 percent of the company, has extended its deadline to June 16. Previously, the deadline was set for May 16.
Taking a jab at its rival, Take-Two Chairman Strauss Zelnick issued a statement: "This is the same highly conditional proposal that EA offered Take-Two stockholders on March 13, 2008, which our board of directors thoroughly reviewed, and unanimously determined to be inadequate and contrary to the best interests of Take-Two's stockholders."
He further noted that Take-Two, in an effort to maximize shareholder value, has begun exploring strategic alternatives with interested parties, now that its record-breaking launch of Grand Theft Auto IV has wrapped up.
EA, which launched its hostile bid valued at $2 billion for Take-Two in late February, said despite the extension, its current offer remains the same.
"EA's offer price remains unchanged at $25.74 per share, and our offer is still subject to conditions that include regulatory approval. As stated earlier, we retain the right to terminate the offer, if the conditions are not satisfied," Owen Mahoney, senior vice president of EA corporate development, said in a statement.
Take-Two shares traded down 1.14 percent in Monday morning trading to $26.79 a share.

The Wii is still sold out

On Monday, we reported on the Wii Fit shortage. But believe it or not, the actual Wii console is still in short supply, a year and a half after its release. If you're like us, you figured that after the holiday season the overwhelming demand for the Nintendo Wii would finally let up and you'd finally be able to buy the console easily online and in stores. However, the Wii is still essentially sold out online; we couldn't find the console available to buy from major retailers like Amazon.com, Best Buy, and Circuit City. We did find a few places where you could buy a Wii, but they required you to buy an expensive bundle, like GameStop's $400 bundle or Wal-Mart's $500 bundle. According to Wii Tracker.com, you can't buy a Wii online for less than $390.
We contacted Nintendo for a comment on the persistant Wii shortages. Here's what the company said:
No home console has ever sold so fast for so long. We planned for big numbers--but not necessarily historic ones. We're doing everything we can. In fact, Nintendo recently forecast that for the fiscal year that began April 1, 2008, worldwide shipments for Wii will increase to 25 million from 18.61 million this past fiscal year. This summer, Nintendo will raise production to 2.4 million systems per month.
That extra production should help the shortage, but who knows if it's enough to handle demand. And while Nintendo claims it is doing everything it can, that's a little hard to swallow now that the company has had plenty of time to ramp up production. For what it's worth, other consoles are readily available online, with both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 available at Amazon. And Nintendo's other popular platform, the DS, can be ordered in a variety of colors.
When do you think the Wii will be in ready supply? Does anyone think Nintendo is purposely creating an artificial shortage? (We don't.) Does anyone have any tips for Wii seekers?
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